John Mackey described the biggest game he won and at the same time demonstrated all that he had lost
Posted by: braunstein1230 in on Jul 15, 2011
John Mackey described the biggest game he won and at the same time demonstrated all that he had lost. He was such an amazing player in the NFL. He was the one who revolutionized the tight end position in the NFL. In March 2007 Mackey remembered how in Super Bowl V, he caught a 75-yard touchdown pass that ignited his Baltimore Colts’ 16-13 victory over Dallas. When asked about that 75-yard catch, he answered with clipped non sequiturs like, “They put me in the Hall of Fame” and “I want a cookie.
Mackey was first found to have frontal temporal dementia in 2000, the same year that the owner of the Cowboys, Jerry Jones, told ESPN he would push his oft-concussed quarterback Troy Aikman into crucial games because “there is no evidence of any long-term, lasting impact” from head trauma in the N.F.L. A few years later, a committee of doctors appointed by the league published several papers making the same claim, to the howls of more independent experts. As this unfolded, Mackey deteriorated to the point that he needed continual in home care. He could no longer fly after becoming so enraged at an airport security checkpoint agents asked him to remove his Super Bowl V and Hall of Fame rings that he burst toward the gate and had to be wrestled to the ground, screaming, by armed officials. He kept mumbling, “I got in the end zone.”
‘’Dozens of applications poured in, demonstrating the wide population of N.F.L. veterans with cognitive decline. Sylvia Mackey became the nexus of a growing support network of N.F.L. wives whose husbands were mentally vanishing in middle age. She offered them expertise and empathy, often during layovers in Denver or elsewhere. N.F.L. players were, indeed, receiving diagnoses of dementia or other memory-related diseases earlier and more often than other American men, prompting Congressional hearings and safety related reform from the professionals all the way to little league football’’.
‘’Whether John Mackey’s condition actually resulted from football will probably remain a mystery. Sylvia Mackey pledged last year to donate his brain to researchers at Boston University to see if he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the collision-induced disease that compromises cognitive function and has been discovered in almost two dozen retired N.F.L. players. But even a positive diagnosis cannot definitively confirm her suspicions of football’s role’’.
“John doesn’t know what’s happening to him,” Sylvia Mackey said in March 2007, sitting beside her husband as he swallowed a dozen Oreos. “John is happy, everything is fine, he is above ground, he is having a good time, he is enjoying life, and he played football.”
The legacy of Mackey, who died Wednesday at age 69, made people realize how important the tight end position was from 1963 to 1972. He also fought for players’ free-agency rights. No player so vividly advertised the growing problem of early onset dementia among veterans of his era.